Wednesday, March 18, 2015


OK, some Israeli election facts for folks abroad who asked:

25 parties competing

120 seats in the Knesset (Israeli parliament)

Threshold required to enter the Knesset 3.25% of the vote

The third largest party in the Knesset is now Arab (United Arab List) 

This Knesset has the highest number of Arab MKs of any Knesset. The new Knesset also has more women MKs than ever.

Head of the Central Election Committee: Supreme Court Justice Salim Jubran

When the official tally is in the president (whose position is mostly that of ceremonial head of state) will give the head of the party he considers most likely to be able to form a majority government of at least 61 Knesset members the opportunity to create a coalition. If they cannot do so in the allotted time the president can suggest the head of another party to try.

As for why Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu won?

I think many Israelis consider him a relatively safe pair of hands. Even if he isn't their favourite person he seems to be able to keep the Israeli ship on an even keel, negotiate the perilous region reasonably well. Not that he isn't without his mistakes, misteps and miscomments. Israelis are wary of experiments though, burned by the Oslo peace talks which erupted into the bloody Oslo intifada, waves of terrorism and the poorly handled Second Lebanon War during the government of Ehud Olmert (in which Tzipi Livni was also foreign minister). 

Netanyahu proved himself capable but cautious during last summer's conflict with Gaza. He did not rush in to military action except as a last resort when there were no other options and Israel had to act in self-defense. He kept a realistic view of what the aims of that war should be, he did not shoot his mouth off with bombastic statements, focusing on getting the job done and protecting Israelis from Hamas rockets and terror. No one is under any illusions that he is perfect, but so far his has done a reasonable job.

One other reason I think people voted Bibi. Tzipi Livni has been in charge of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in the outgoing Netanyahu government. Despite her willingness for compromise there was no deal to be had. Obama's pressuring of one side, ie Israel helped to entrench Abbas' view that he could dig in and reject Livni's offers because time was on his side and more could be squeezed out of the Israeli negotiating team. 

The outgoing Netanyahu led government released large numbers of Palestinian terrorists convicted for violent offences, including multiple murders, took the groundbreaking measure (for a Likud led government) of freezing construction over the Green Line, including the (for a Likud led govt) unheard of step of freezing construction in Jerusalem itself. Livni's negotiating team did all it could to go the extra mile. Yet the end result was complete rejection on the part of Abbas and more unilateral moves on his part to fight Israel on the international stage with BDS, the Hague and more. This is the background to Bibi's comments about 2 state solution and this is why many Israelis felt that Bibi and Livni had done their best but there was no deal to be had, so the best option was electing a "manager", someone like Bibi who would make the best of maintaining the "status quo" as it is.

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